The Golden State Warriors are still the best team in the West, but they’ve dropped the cash in six of their last eight games. Celtics, on the other hand, were a solid NBA pick over the past month.
Jason’s record as of Feb. 27: 36-36-4 ATS, 3-6 Totals
We haven’t done too well against the totals with our NBA picks this year, but we got it right when we recommended the UNDER in Friday’s matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors. The Warriors did indeed shake off their loss in Cleveland, pounding the Raptors 113-89 (UNDER 212.5) as 2-point road faves. The shots that didn’t go in against the Cavaliers, went in against the Raps. Golden State shot 13-of-28 from long range for the win.
Does this mean the Warriors (45-11 SU, 34-21-1 ATS) are back in the good graces of handicappers? They’re still just 5-3 SU and 2-6 ATS on NBA odds in their last eight games, and this Sunday (6:00 p.m. ET), they have another road game against the Boston Celtics, who are 7-3 SU and 8-2 ATS in their past 10 games. Yes, the Celtics. This could be a good spot to put Boston in your NBA picks as an 8-point puppy.
We came pretty close to fading the Raptors on Friday, based on the diminishing returns they’ve been getting from their team MVP, Kyle Lowry. Let’s run the same analysis on this year’s leading MVP candidate for the entire league, Stephen Curry (27.8 PER), just in case anything turns up:
Well, looky here. The drop-off isn’t as distressing as it is for Lowry in Toronto, but there’s still 12 points or so that went missing last month. And this was despite Curry hitting 44.6 percent of his trey attempts in February, his best rate of the season thus far. It’s his 2-pointers and his free throws that haven’t been quite as accurate.
Curry’s defense has also been slipping as the year has progressed. His defensive rating in November: 93.1 points allowed per 100 possessions. In February: 100.6. Likewise, Klay Thompson (21.1 PER) has seen his monthly plus-minus numbers drop in lock-step with his defensive rating, which went from 89.9 in November to 100.9 in February. So Golden State’s recent ATS woes aren’t just a case of elevated market expectations.
New Blood Rising
We’ve already been gushing plenty about the Celtics (23-33 SU, 32-24 ATS) and their recent run. They were at it again Friday night, beating the Charlotte Hornets 106-98 as 1.5-point home faves. Chalk up another big game for Isaiah Thomas (20.0 PER), who led all Boston scorers with 28 points, and added seven assists for good measure.
Thomas isn’t the only newcomer who’s playing well for the C’s. Jonas Jerebko (15.9 PER) was an absolute steal in the 3-way trade that brought Thomas to town; the former Detroit Piston had 16 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes against Charlotte. And Jae Crowder (14.2 PER), who was part of the Rajon Rondo deal with the Dallas Mavericks, hit four of his eight trey attempts against the Hornets en route to 14 points and six rebounds.
Bring Your Eh? Game
Things could get even better for the Celtics on Sunday. Kelly Olynyk (16.0 PER) might make his return after missing six weeks of action with a sprained right ankle – he’s listed as questionable as we go to press. Olynyk was enjoying a strong sophomore campaign, with upticks in his shooting and his defense. But people don’t take him seriously. Is it because Olynyk’s a very pale 7-foot Canadian with long hair who played at Gonzaga?
Yes. Yes it is. Which suits us just fine; if casual fans are going to let that bias affect their basketball picks, we’re more than happy to take advantage. Give us the C’s for this matchup, and may the sphere be with you in March and beyond.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Celtics